Chiropterans are a hotspot for horizontal transfer of DNA transposons in mammalia

Nicole S Paulat, Jessica M Storer, Diana D Moreno-Santillán, Austin B Osmanski, Kevin A M Sullivan, Jenna R Grimshaw, Jennifer Korstian, Michaela Halsey, Carlos J Garcia, Claudia Crookshanks, Jaquelyn Roberts, Arian F A Smit, Robert Hubley, Jeb Rosen, Emma C Teeling, Sonja C Vernes, Eugene Myers, Martin Pippel, Thomas Brown, Michael HillerZoonomia Consortium, Danny Rojas, Liliana M Dávalos, Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, Elinor K Karlsson, David A Ray*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Horizontal transfer of transposable elements (TEs) is an important mechanism contributing to genetic diversity and innovation. Bats (order Chiroptera) have repeatedly been shown to experience horizontal transfer of TEs at what appears to be a high rate compared with other mammals. We investigated the occurrence of horizontally transferred (HT) DNA transposons involving bats. We found over 200 putative HT elements within bats; 16 transposons were shared across distantly related mammalian clades, and 2 other elements were shared with a fish and two lizard species. Our results indicate that bats are a hotspot for horizontal transfer of DNA transposons. These events broadly coincide with the diversification of several bat clades, supporting the hypothesis that DNA transposon invasions have contributed to genetic diversification of bats.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbermsad092
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number5
Early online date18 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


  • Fusogenic envelope protein
  • Platypus
  • Endogenous retrovirus
  • Echidna
  • Monotremes


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